Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Riders find Mt. Hood to their off-season liking

Peterson earns qualifying spot

Summer may be here, but anytime is a good time for snowboarding for four Sun Valley Snowboard Team kids.

Sun Valley's Jens Peterson, Scott Fairfax, Austen Butler and Jeremy Black traveled to Mt. Hood (Ore.) June 17-23 for the four-day Windell's Snowboard Camp followed by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Evolution Tour events.

"It was a real solid event for all four, against some of the elite juniors in the country," said Sun Valley Snowboard Team head coach Andy Gilbert, who joined the team for the event days while coach A.J. Grabos handled the camp.

Gilbert added, "This is the first time we've had sanctioned summertime events. The Evolution Tour is taking the place of the Junior Olympic Series for mid-level juniors. The top three from Mt. Hood got guaranteed spots in next year's Grand Prix Olympic qualifying series."

Jens Peterson, a promising J1 rider and incoming Wood River High School senior, earned one of the guaranteed berths by placing third overall in the June 22 slopestyle event.

Gilbert said, "Jens rode so well. The stuff he's been doing is real technical but so smooth."

Although he's several years younger, Scott Fairfax finished fourth overall in slopestyle and was the top J3. Fairfax has already shown he is precocious, having qualified for nationals last winter in his first year on the Sun Valley "A" team.

Jeremy Black (15th overall, 2nd J2) and Austen Butler (19th overall, 4th J2) rounded out the Sun Valley slopestyle efforts.

The June 23 Mt. Hood halfpipe was stacked with some of the best junior riders in the country, especially in the tough J3 group of 13-14 year olds. But Sun Valley held its own.

Butler (3rd J2) emerged in 12th place overall in the pipe. Gilbert said, "Austen was doing Frontside 900s in the pipe—and he was six or seven feet out of the pipe. His amplitude is absolutely huge."

Gilbert said he felt Peterson (15th overall, 2nd J1) was robbed by the halfpipe judges from an even better result. "Jens is riding really well doing Backside 720s in the pipe," said Gilbert. Another pipe result: Fairfax (23rd, 10th J3).

Seven Sun Valley riders will join eight from Park City for an Epic Snow Camp in New Zealand July 29-Aug. 27. They are Austen Butler, Jeremy Black, Heather Black, J.J. Martin, Kenny Ballou, Scott Pike and Bobby Flanigan. "A" team coaches Grabos and Jacob Tyler will accompany the group.

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